Could Zach LaVine's return from knee injury happen in suburbs?
MILWAUKEE -- There's a chance Bulls guard Zach LaVine could return from his ACL injury in Hoffman Estates.
Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said the team is deciding whether to let LaVine get his feet wet with the G-League's Windy City Bulls before making his return to the NBA. LaVine tore the ACL in his left knee last Feb. 3 while playing for Minnesota.
"We're still trying to figure out exactly if we want him to play a couple of stints with Windy City in short stretches," Hoiberg said before Friday's game in Milwaukee. "Just to get his feet wet and get back on the floor really without having played competitive basketball in a year in a game-type setting. So those are the decisions we'll have to figure out exactly how we're going to handle that moving forward with Zach."
LaVine has been practicing every other day for roughly a month, sometimes with Windy City when the Bulls are off. Hoiberg said the plan is for LaVine to start practicing on consecutive days next week.
"He's got a little bit of back soreness right now," Hoiberg said. "Not unexpected with how much he's increased his workload. After Christmas, we'll have a better idea, get a better time frame I think for when we'll get him back."
If LaVine does play a game at the Sears Centre, the likely date is Jan. 6 against the Wisconsin Herd. That's Windy City's only home game between Dec. 23 and Jan. 19. It's possible LaVine could play in a road game, too.
Markkanen misses third game:
The Bulls decided Lauri Markkanen's sore back didn't need a bus ride, so they left him at home Friday. The 7-foot rookie missed his third straight game with back spasms.
"We felt the smartest thing to do was to leave him back," coach Fred Hoiberg said before the game. "He got a good workout in today and went back for a second treatment this afternoon. We'll reevaluate him (Saturday).
"It's really caution. The important thing is he continues to get better. He feels a lot better today than he did yesterday. Hopefully we'll get him after a day off and another round of treatments, get him back for some, at least, noncontact on Sunday."
The Bulls' next game is Monday against Philadelphia at the United Center. Hoiberg said once again Markkanen will remain a starter when healthy.
Parker eyes Feb. return:
Milwaukee forward Jabari Parker tore the ACL in his left knee last Feb. 8, just five days after Zach LaVine suffered the same injury. The difference is, Parker tore the ACL in his left knee for the second time in his pro career.
So the Bucks are taking a more cautious approach with Parker, a Chicago native who starred in high school at Simeon.
"He's doing great," Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd said. "He's doing everything. He's practicing, he's full court. So it's just February is the timeline of him coming back. But he's doing everything and he looks great."